Topside (1990)

While Shipwreck gets a lot of attention as the Joe team’s resident sailor, Topside seems relegated to being a bit player. It’s a shame that he’s not more well-known because he’s a colorful alternative to Shipwreck’s iconic, yet stereotypical, sailor look. He’s one of my favorite Joes from 1990, even though I’m not a big fan of the naval characters.

Bright colors are always welcome for me, and here don’t seem out of place. After all, the orange vest and blue and grey are sensible naval colors. The unique accessory trend of the 1990 figures is evident, with a new type of helmet and machine gun, as well as a backpack that doubles as a missile launcher. Sure it’s a bit ridiculous, but is not overly large and makes for a nice secondary weapon.

The nondescript look makes for great custom potential. I have a few extras that I plan to use as parts donors for some nameless USS Flagg deckhands. You can never have enough troops hanging out on deck, and if they’re all wearing life vests, so much the better. Gotta think safety.

Topside made an appearance in a couple of DIC episodes, notably the supremely goofy (go figure) Officer and a Viperman episode, in which Topside, Pathfinder and Ambush infiltrate Cobra as new recruits. The episode particularly cracked me up when Cobra’s Rock Viper trainer showed up wearing a drill instructor hat over his usual headgear.

On thing that bugs me about Topside is his lack of the usual black or brown painted eyes and eyebrows. It makes for a creepy look.


  • Of course, later on, his arms were used for the Battle Corps version of Backblast. I actually like this guy for some reason–though I wonder why he was a redhead on the cartoon and not blonde.

  • Topside is one of the best figures released after 1990. I liked his file card portrayal, plus he wasn’t insufferably annoying like Shipwreck became in the Sunbow cartoon. I was happy to see Topside turn up in the IDW revival of the old Marvel comic. I think the reason he lacks pupils is to help make his redheaded look stand out better. Still, it’s an odd way to go. On a related note, I was looking forward to the Collector’s Club subscription program’s 25th style take on Topside but that project seems to be in limbo for the time being.

  • I made a Topside custom out of a greenshirt Breaker head, ROC Resolute Gung-Ho body and used the lifevest from the Shipwreck/Copperhead comic 2-pack. I was inspired by the Club’s version! The original vintage version is nice-I hope some day to pick it up. Unlike the club version. I painted the lower sleeves of his T-shirt white, just like the original. Haven’t painted “NAVY” yet on it…not sure if I want to!

  • In 1996, I found a DeSimone guide at an antique shop in Circleville, Indiana. It was my first exposure to most Joes released after 1990. I only had a few minutes to review it and remembered few figures from it. But, Topside was one of them. Something about him caught my eye.

    When I first started buying Joes on the aftermarket, Topsides (like most figures from the ’90’s) were pretty hard to find. I actually army built them and used them as maritime Joe soldiers. It’s a great figure, but one that I’ve kind of neglected in recent years.

  • @ Acer, No, I kept the legs. I just pretend Topside’s missles are inside those cargo pockets 🙂

  • One of my all time figs of the ARAH line, I love the backpack rocket launcher. I kind of agree on the eyes but not enough to make it a huge deal. He is one of those perfect mixes of mold and accessories.

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